Thin Lizzy wasn’t back in town, but last week the merry band of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux descended on Hong Kong for the last leg of their Asia tour to promote their 2012 vintage.
With its reputation as the wine hub of Asia, Hong Kong's wine calendar is filled with a vast array of dinners and tastings. However, when this invitation appeared in my in box something about it sounded as though this tasting would be very different. The invitation was as follows:
Coming up with a new tasting theme is always something of a challenge.  What will be of interest to our customers?  What have people not tasted for a while?  What is looking like a good buy?  And, last but not least, as we are, after all, a wine trader, what wines that meet the previous criteria do we have available to sell?  This was our dilemma a couple of months ago when we started planning a tasting to coincide with the week of Vinexpo in Hong Kong.
If someone asks you what you do for a living, and you reply that you work in the wine trade, their instant reaction is pretty much unanimous and goes something along the lines of: "How lucky you are!" "Wow, a job where you can drink wine everyday!" Well, working in the wine trade isn’t quite like that, but I do feel very lucky to have entered a career that I love and do look forward to going to work everyday. Working for Farr Vintners means that as well as getting to taste and sell some of the finest wines in the world, we also get to meet some of the most interesting and fascinating people; and over the years many of these people have become good friends. Wine provides a means of building relationships, and whilst I enjoy tasting and selling fine wines, I also value these relationships.
What a couple of weeks it has been in Hong Kong! With Christmas racing towards us, November is a busy month anyway, but in Hong Kong it’s Wine and Dine Month. We have Burgundy week, West Kowloon Wine Festival, The Hong Kong Wine Fair and “Wine Futures”. The city has been flooded with winemakers, château and domaine owners and their representatives, as well as critics. E-mail boxes have been overflowing with tempting wine dinner and tasting invitations.
Around a year ago we met with The Hong Kong Jockey Club and a challenge was taken on – to assist them with a wine event, but a wine event with a difference...
You may recall Stephen’s blog back in October about the 03 Bordeaux tasting (or was it Phillip Schofield’s black teeth that spring to mind?). Since then, there have been a few email correspondences going back with my Singapore friends who were, how can I say, just a little "sceptical", as to how approachable and ready-to-drink the 03's really are. So, we decided to put the matter to rest once and for all, and have our own 03 tasting in Singapore, to let the wines speak for themselves on another continent, on the other side of the world.
Do you fancy dinner in Dalian? – how tempting does 83 Margaux, 86 Lafite, 89 Haut Brion, 82 Mouton, 82 Latour and 97 Yquem sound? ……I booked my ticket!
One of the hardest questions facing any Hong Konger is the classic “where shall we go for dinner tonight?”. The city is crammed with restaurants offering an array of different cuisines – whatever your taste, you are sure to find it here, and survival in such competitive circumstances means that restaurants can only offer the best quality for their very discerning customers. Going out for dinner these days also requires planning if you wish to secure a reservation in the restaurant of your choice. We can easily forget that some countries are facing tough economic times when we need to book more than a week in advance to get into our favourite restaurant.
This weekend I hopped on a plane – destination: Qingdao.
How the wine scene has changed since I first came to Asia 15 years ago - Hong Kong had only 4 wine shops, the range of wines was limited (not to mention prices exorbitant due to the duty which at one point was at 90%). If you ventured across the border to the mainland the choice was even less, I think there were only 3 major wine importers, mainly dealing in agency wines. Beer would be the alcoholic beverage of choice.
It seems that our blog is dominated by our colleagues in London with interesting tastings – but we do get more than our fair share of tastings in Asia you know!